Saturday, October 4, 2014

Today is our last day on the ship and it was a very early morning!  Our tour bus left Avignon to go to Arles at 8:30 this morning.

We arrived in Arles around 9:15 or so.  It is an old city and was used and lived in by the Romans in 46 BC as it had a strategic location close to the sea.  The roman remains that are left are very well preserved and very impressive.  The old roman amphitheatre is very much like the one in Rome, except smaller.  It had an entire city on the inside of the walls at one point in history.  Later on, it was used for gladiator fights to entertain the people. Now, it is still used for bullfighting twice per year. 

 Van Gogh lived in Arles, and that is mainly what makes it famous. The city has done a good job of marking where he painted his paintings.  Over the 2 years that he lived in Arles, he painted 300 of his paintings.  He was ordered to go to the hospital in the city after he cut off his ear after having too much Absinth and a fight with another painter.  His life apparently relaxed a bit after he was admitted because he no longer had to worry about living costs or burden his brother that was paying for his life.

It had a phenomenal market.  It was huge.  I haven’t seen such a good market in a really long time (if ever).  Mom and I “ditched” Kendra and Dad (they went back to the ship) and we spent a good 3h looking around in the market.  They had everything from things made in China, to soaps from Province, towels, scarves, blankets, gadgets, and FOOD – fruit, veggies, cheese, bread, meat, nuts, spices, honey, garlic, sauces….it was amazing.  We walked and walked and walked and I think we covered almost the whole thing, but it was overwhelming there was so much stuff to see.  I bought some cheese for the train tomorrow and Monday.  Mom and I bought some pastry stuff for lunch and some oranges.  Mom loaded up on soaps from Province and I bought a nice little apron.

We had a little picnic in the Van Gogh square (the old hospital where he lived) and slowly started walking back to the bus that would take us to Tarascon where the boat was docked.  We stopped in a few stores along the way, where mom did damage.  She bought really beautiful fabric to make Bev a table cloth.  It had poppies and beautiful French poems/sayings scattered over it.  She also ended up buying herself a really nice France/Wine table cloth.  A bit smaller than mine and a bit less formal and really pretty.  It was great because she couldn’t get any napkins from the store, but at the last minute she noticed that he had table runners and so she is going to make napkins from the table runner!  As well as we did a bit of damage in a women’s clothing store where there was a long tunic, sweater thing.

Back in Tarascon, we changed and got Kendra and Dad and took the bikes out for one last bike ride.  There is a big castle in Tarascon that we visited before heading over the river to another little town that I do not know the name of.  We cycled along the river on a dirt path for a while before going into town and around for a bit.  It was the perfect day.

We had our last mojitos on the upper deck while playing a really bad game of yatzee for happy hour before attempting to pack and get organized. 

Dinner was amazing because we had reserved the small Leopard lounge for dinner.  They provided wine pairing throughout the meal and the meal must have been 5 or 6 courses.  We had this awesome soup that was basically provided in a shot glass.  He told us just to drink it in one drink.  Very awesome.  We had the most amazing filet mignon – you could practically cut it with a fork.  Awesome dinner.

By the time we had finished dinner we had almost docked in Avignon – where Shawn was waiting!

I waited to get off the boat and finally the guys managed to put the ramp down (seriously it took forever!).  And there was Shawn! He had survived his part of the trip in Pau and Tolouse. 

We showed him our state rooms and went up to the lounge to have a drink.  It was a pretty sad lounge, however, as some people had really early trains and flights, so no one was in the lounge but us.  It was sad.  Mom, Dad, and Kendra left and went to go get ready for bed, but I was so tired that I was not far behind. 

Tomorrow Shawn will come for breakfast and then we will all be going our separate ways.  Last night in our awesome cruise room.




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